Smithsonian - National Museum of American History, Behring Center

Costume Collection - Women's Dresses

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Dress, 1-Piece - click to enlarge

Dress, 1-Piece - click to enlarge

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Dress, 1-Piece

Catalogue number: 2000.0134.001

Date: 1987-1992

Maker: Carolina Herrera

Designer: Carolina Herrera


Yellow, gold, blue, green, and peach floral print on black silk plisse; round neckline with gold satin binding; center back opening; hidden nylon zipper closure; set-in sleeves; princess seamed bodice extends to hips; circular skirt; gold satin binding around skirt edge; bodice and sleeves lined in yellow silk; skirt lined in yellow organdy.


Maria Carolina Josefina Pacanins y Nino, born in 1939, came from one of Venezuela's most prominent families. She grew up in the midst of international socialites, wearing made-to-order clothes. At the age of 13, Carolina was taken to Paris to see a Balenciaga fashion show, an event that she considers influential in how she looks at clothes. From then on, Carolina became involved in the total dressmaking process, working with the dressmaker or designer on the choice of style, fabric, and fit.

Her taste and sense of style won many accolades, especially from friends who eventually became her clients. After many years on the International Best Dressed list, she embarked on a career in textile design. She arrived in the United States in 1980 with her husband and four daughters. Her friend Diana Vreeland, former editor of Vogue, convinced her to design dresses rather than fabrics.

In 1981, she opened her business with a collection of twenty dresses. At first Herrera's clothes had the exaggerated sleeves and shoulder pads often associated with the Dynasty television show. Through the years, as her business grew, she redefined her look and presented stylish and wearable clothes that are considered timeless. Her designs are simple and elegant, and very well made.

Credit: Gift of Priscilla Q. Wood